tv Newsmakers CSPAN February 23, 2014 6:00pm-6:31pm EST
or 0.3% by 2016. obviously the naacp has advocated for an increase in the minimum wage. what is your response to the cbo's report? >> we believe the report has some validity. if you read it little bit closer, it said it would increase employment by 900,000, a difference of 400,000 give or take. we believe emphatically that we should do whatever it takes to increase employment in our communities.
for african-americans if the unemployment rate is six percent, and is double that in our community. whatever we can do to help with the unemployment is the thing to do. we are very supportive of that. >> you met with president obama at the white house this week, as well as other members of other organizations. did you bring this up with the president? >> sure. let me characterize the meeting as having worked in the white house in the clinton administration and having seen several presidents in operation. this was a very substantive and a give-and-take -- a wonderful give-and-take. you usually come to these meetings were you're talked to, or at, this was different in that this was a give-and-take. he had issues that he wanted to discuss with us, and we had a good bit of give and take about job training, a good bit of
discussion about the economic inequality, what we could do, and what his administration is doing. we had some really good, not enter, but good suggestions that he said yet not quite thought about that way. i thought it was great, remarkable. >> was their debate, disagreement, and if so over what issues? >> not so much disagreement. we thank him for a good amount of initiatives he has put forth. what we discovered, when we presented our joint agenda for the african-american community, there was a good bit of alignment. not that we are in lockstep with the president, but that there is
some alignment where there are issues that he is working on that we have been working on also. there wasn't a lot of debate. he would offer a suggestion, and then someone would say well if you did it this way, and then he would say, i had not thought about it that way, that is a good suggestion. simple stuff like he was making the point that they did not receive a whole lot of interns for this semester -- legal interns. being a legal intern in the white house would be a great resume builder was what he thought, and one of my coworkers said that you know we ought to have an opportunity to have a variety of different kinds of legal interns. people interested in labor law, someone who is interested in corporate.
i offered, it is easier when your process -- you miss out on some people because the process is so cumbersome. >> back to the original point. 6.6% unemployment, a lot of economists and folks around the country are frustrated at the pace of the economic recovery. you noted that when you have that 6.6% national unemployment rate we are talking about more than 12% unemployment in the african american community when the participation rate remains at an all-time low. numbers aside, people are frustrated. from a policy standpoint, what would you like to see this administration do to help lower the unemployment rate that they
have not done, or have not done fast enough? >> i would think that one of the things, if you remember, one of the things at the beginning of the obama administration was the jobs bill that went virtually nowhere. small pieces of it were passed. he is realizing that he has a congress that he has to deal with that are not going to be very supportive of any job programs that he is looking at. what he is trying to do is find the areas that he can personally make a stand and move it forward. for instance, he talked a good bit about job training. he said that one of the things that he was trying to get his administration to do was to look at things more structurally,
holistically, and coordinate strategically. it is not just a hud project, a department of education project, but you look at the promised zones that he has been talking about and implementing. there has to be a more strategic, cabinet wide, coordinated effort to make sure that openings are available. that the administration should hasten concerted effort to drill down into community effort. that is where the civil rights community comes in. it is not just that we put out a posting that we have five jobs opening, but that these five job openings are drill down so that community people have an opportunity to apply. that is part of the process that the president is looking at to make this much more strategic to drill down to get to the people who are really in need of a job. that is one of the reasons that
i believe that he was able to do the executive order for minimum wage. because the efforts that have been going on, in washington and nine other cities, that gave him impetus to do his executive order. >> one of the things you said earlier was that the naacp and other organizations are not in lockstep with the president. one of the complaints that we have seen in the african-american community about this administration is that they do not believe president obama has put enough focus on the african-american community during his time in office. now that we are in his second term, do you think he is looking in america too widely, and not focusing on african-american unemployment issues that you, in your organization, are specifically interested in?
>> they are looking much more strategically. i think that the president realizes that the african-american community has been a bedrock of support for his administration. an absolute bedrock. look at my own church, shiloh baptist, every sunday we say lord bless the president and his family. i think he is looking at a more strategic way of how he can make an impact on the african-american community through both employment, and health care, and all of the issues we are facing every day. >> are you saying this to say that the white house has not been doing this before? >> they have been. and i agree with you, they have been doing it with a larger lens. now that they are focusing that
on strategic things, i think that they feel they can really make a difference. you can see the unemployment go down in certain areas. that is the beauty of the promise zones. >> you alluded to how the african-american community has been such supporters of this administration. i want to talk to the response to the promise zones. senator rand paul. his plan, he says, would help help folks that have been struggling in this recession out of some of the hardest hit economic areas. it would help them get out of there by lowering taxes. he says that the president's
plan is just picking winners and losers. do you think that rand paul's plan could help these hardest hit cities? >> i think it could. he is from a libertarian perspective, which is an open, whoever will come will come, not strategic -- >> what do you mean not strategic? >> as you said earlier, the president has been looking at what is going on in the african-american community from a wider lens, and is now kind of closing that lands end trying to focus on things that he can do specifically for job-training,
raising the minimum wage, things that he can really use as a matrix to measure what the effects of what he is trying to do. i think that if senator paul was interested in working with us, we would love to talk with him about it, and work with him on it. i think his is much more of a wider kind of focus. the president is trying to focus narrowly, strategically, on the african-american community. >> is that an invitation for senator paul to speak to the naacp? >> yes. we would love to have him. >> he has been outreaching to the african-american community. on monday, he will be at another predominantly african-american university. he has spoken at other african-american communities in the past. what can the republican party
do, lorraine, to maybe break up that bedrock of support that the african-american community seems right now to have had for democrats? >> african-americans are about their issues. it seems that republicans have fought that. for instance, i mentioned earlier that the president had put forth a jobs bill at the beginning of the administration, and it was defeated. it had never had the kind of support in congress it should have. african-americans see this. it is clear, it is evident, so you vote for who support you. we have not seen a lot of support from the republican party. having said that, there are many
members of the house and the senate, who are republican, who understand the issues in the african-american community. we just need to connect those dots. work together. i believe we can do this. we are willing, and the naacp and the urban league, we are willing to extend their hand in an effort of sincere collaboration. once we do that, i think we can come up with things that will mutually benefit the african-american community. >> as the leader of the oldest and largest civil rights organization, there is a changing dynamic out there right now in the african american community.
a lot of younger african-americans now get their information about civil rights controversies, and trials through mediums like twitter. >> yes, twitter. >> i love it. how does the naacp keep its status as the leader of this movement when the younger generation doesn't turn to the naacp to find out about things they care about? they turn to a much more open society on twitter. how does the naacp stay relevant in a society where the young are now not turning to them to talk about michael sam and others? >> i beg to differ. we do tweet. --have a >> i am a follower. >> so you know. we have a very aggressive digital communications staff. our director of communications,
derek, and our digital director are very good at this. and we have established hundreds of thousands of young people that tweet. i tweet on occasion, and we do a lot on our blog, on instagram, we are very much into the digital media. that is the new way. in 2012, the naacp moved 1.2 million people to participate in the election process. we did a lot of that through digital media. we realized more than anyone that we had to go in that direction, and we have done it, and we continue to grow a base.
it is something we have realized, and we are in this hand in glove. >> how are you using those digital resources and your other resources to get african-americans to sign up for exchanges under the affordable care act? >> we are doing it through the digital media, because we are doing the tweets and encouraging people. we are also doing it the old-fashioned way, person-to-person. we are holding enrollment seminars all around the country. for instance, a couple of weeks ago we had this march on raleigh, north carolina, which was part of aca enrollment. the next part of the movement will be in florida on march 3,
where the president of our state conference there in florida will have a moral monday as part of her activity aca enrollment. i have to remind people, one of the reasons that we had to have health care -- a rethinking of the distribution of health care in this country is because we had 40 million people in this country without health care. that was the impetus. i can remember being a staffer on the hill, when i served on the staff of speaker tom foley. every thursday at 2:00 p.m., we had a health care meeting. one of the things that speaker
foley always said, if we had a president who would sign it. we had been all suffering out of the country, because we did not have a health care plan. now that we do, i believe that the health of americans will improve exponentially. we just have to get them enrolled. >> we have a little over five minutes left. let me follow up on health care. of that 40 million, how many of them were in the african-american community? what are the challenges to get african-americans to sign up in these exchanges? >> there were probably half of them african-americans. the challenge is the education of it. a lot of people in our community just needed to know how to do it. the mechanics of executing it. that is what we have been doing for the last few months.
trying to get -- educating people, going to churches, going to the fraternity organizations, spreading the word and helping them understand the various programs that are available for them, and the kind of funding and the cost of these programs that people can avail themselves to. that is a big part of it. once you get people understanding, and it does not help that the rollout initially has been a little rocky. [laughter] >> a little rocky? ok. >> and it has not been what anyone had hoped for. once you peel that back, and show people the advantages of health care, and why that is much better than using the emergency rooms of our hospitals
as the primary care for a lot of people, i think people understand that. it has helped them plan their healthcare. it takes a lot of education. >> you mentioned reverend william barber. he has been criticized for comments he made about senator scott, when he said that a ventriloquist can only find a good dummy. he is the first african-american senator in the republican party since the one from south carolina. what is your response? do you think that reverend barber should have made this comment, do you think you should apologize, is it over the line?
>> it is not so much about tim scott or william barber. what it is about in my opinion, is about the ability of reverend barber over the years to work in coalition. in talking to reverend barber several days ago, he was telling me, you know, lorraine, i had a meeting of lots of republicans, state legislators, and those in the public venue in north carolina who agree with what we are trying to do. the question is, do north carolinians have the right to have medicare? >> the rhetoric, to call senator scott, to imply that he is a ventriloquist's dummy, is that going to keep the issues on
on employment, obamacare? >> what reverend barber said was in frustration. >> do you think he should apologize? >> he has already spoken to the tim scott issue, quite adequately. he has made his statement, and that is where we are. i cannot focus on things like that. what i am focused on is helping reverend barber keeping his coalition going. getting the people in north carolina to appreciate what they are trying to do on the moral mondays to focus on medicare, medicaid, and school funding for public education. the plethora of issues out there
that affect the lives of north carolinians every day. >> one of the things that i noticed about the meeting last week was that around a table for the summer rights organizations i noticed that there were a majority led by women. >> of course. >> it didn't used to be like that. in the past the majority of the civil rights organizations were led by men. when did that change? you are leading the naacp as their interim director. when will we see a person brought in permanently, and are you throwing your name into that hat? >> i am not. our selection committee hopes to have a name to offer the national board at our meeting.
i am no longer -- if this were 10 years ago, i probably would have been interested. i retired as the clerk of the house in 2011, and i'm a commercial realtor, and i would go back to my real estate business. i am trying to bring retail to underserved communities. trying to work in my own neighborhood in fort worth. let's go to the women. part of what i believe is going on here, this is the continuing year of the woman. men have been predominant in these kinds of arenas. women, though, are more of the activists. you look at the church even,
black church, white church, what you see more of in leadership are women. it is kind of a natural order of things for women to at this point in our society to take very prominent roles. i am proud to be as an interim president of the naacp, this is a high honor, that you do not take lightly. >> we will have to leave it there. thank you for being our newsmaker. >> have a great day. >> you too. >> let's talk about what we heard. >> fascinating. >> exciting discussion. >> the biggest take away was that this organization and its ability to connect with voters in communities and activates the grass -- activate the grassroots to their policy objective, it is
exciting, and there is no one else that can do that. table.ve a seat at the >> still relevant? >> still completely relevant. the question comes, in the future, as more and more african-americans turn for the digital world, percentage wise there are more african americans on twitter. we know they will always be relevant, but what we are seeing now is twitter is leading them instead of them leading twitter. can they get back to the front? >> what you make of her conversation with the other civil rights leaders? how would you characterize what they view his agenda?
>> like the rest of the americans, i think that there is an overall frustration at the pace of the recovery since 2008. she said something interesting, she said we are not in lockstep, but she will not elaborate where. that speaks to the larger -- just like the democratic party does not like to air the differences going on, she was hesitant to criticize the administration or the democrats on specific policy angles. >> one of the things that we know for a fact is that there has been strong criticism from some members of the african-american community of the obama administration as they do not think the white house has paid enough attention to these bedrock supporters.
the white house has been concentrating on the help of the country as a whole. but the health of this one community that has been solidly for the president since the beginning, a lot of people think that has been lacking. what we see from the white house now is that they are now turning toward these communities, and saying we know you supported us, what can we do for you? >> we talked about the economy and minimum-wage jobs. health care. one issue is voting rights, is that a big one for the african-american community and what are the chances that after the supreme court makes their decision, congress does something on this? >> what i see here, they are laying a groundwork for a push in the next elections. all of the people that they are signing up for these health-care exchanges, they are setting up the voters as well. they are laying the ground right
for future voting rights pushes, not only around the midterm elections, but also for the next presidential election as well. >> clearly the naacp supports democrats. when we brought up rand paul, and other republicans who have a unique standpoint, there is an ability for some of these issues for them to with -- work with republicans, and she laid the invitation right out there. it will be interesting to see how this plays out. >> and if the senator takes her up on it. >> i think he might, and showed. -- and should. >> what is next then? what are you watching for? laying the groundwork for the next elections, but are they talking 2014 or 2016?
>> both. 2016 is the end-all and be-all for the political cycle. the presidential election is always where everyone is paying attention. but you have control of the house and senate. >> the senate is in play. >> i will be looking at whether they can continue to get the high number of african-americans turning out to vote and not only the 2016 presidential elections, but in the midterm elections. if that number fluctuates, if it drops, the democrats could be looking at a tough year in the polls. >> what happens if the republicans controlled the senate and the house? if there is a republican-controlled congress, what does that mean for president obama and all of his supporters, and his ability to tackle the issues on their own agenda. >> with this more focused lens on the african-america